Extensive research, exhaustive interviews with experts, and a little forward-looking extrapolation yielded the nine stories presented in this year's "Winners & Losers" report. But recently two emerged as even bigger potential winners than they seemed when we began working on the issue, back in July's summer swelter.



Is Vegas Vic the world's first wireless cowboy?

On 16 November, Motorola Inc. announced it would acquire MeshNetworks Inc., the Florida company whose innovative technology is being used in a Nevada demonstration network [see "Viva Mesh Vegas"]. The next day, Microsoft's TV division reported a US $400 million license with phone giant SBC Communications Inc., in San Antonio, to use its Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) system, the same software being used in the Swiss market trial described in "The Battle for Broadband."

Both deals could transform up-and-coming tech industries. Consider Motorola's purchase of MeshNetworks: when a company with a hand in almost every form of wireless telecommunications announces a plan to integrate mesh networking throughout its product line, the technology goes from maverick to mainstream overnight.

In a mesh, every node of the network is also a transponder, a principle that yields systems with higher data rates, greater network capacity, and lower power requirements. Those advantages are already known to our readers, who learned of MeshNetworks in a June 2003 feature article.

For SBC, Internet-based television is the centerpiece of a multibillion dollar investment to upgrade its aging telephone network and offer new services that boost revenue, making possible—you guessed it—more upgrades and new services. That virtuous cycle won't be limited to San Antonio—IPTV is being tested by carriers on three continents.

We're pleased that a couple of tech titans saw the same potential we did—and were confident enough to bet big on what they saw.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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